With spring comes food plot planning, and with summer comes putting that plan in place. Every year hunters and conservationists scramble to get on their favorite tractor, fourwheeler, or even grab that rake to get their food plot started for the year. However, many will spin seed on the ground, and forget to take into consideration some of these strategies we will be discussing in this article. Food plot architecture is the building stone to making food plots reach a true potential when it comes to deer movement, forage variety, and how much fun food plotting can be. Utilizing different screening methods, edges, natural contour, and diving into the wide variety of plant species is all part of this design.
Seclusion is Key
Deer being a prey species are always looking for areas where they can feel comfort in not being seen by the world. In retrospect a cruising buck to the rut wants to be able to find every nook and cranny where a doe may be hiding. To take advantage of both of these scenarios we utilize plot screening. Plot screening covers a wide base of strategies from annual seed blends, Miscanthus grass, switchgrass prairie, or even brush piled up that you may have cleared from the food plot. We will plant screening around all of our plots to make deer not only feel more comfortable, but it also forces a buck to search through your food plots rather than glass over your acre food plot seeing that there is no doe and then leaving. This year try to strategize how you will screen off your plots to make deer move throughout the food plot and use them more during the day.
Deer are well known to be edge and contour users. I have seen deer literally walk the edge between a clover plot and an annual turnip plot just because of the edge that the two blends had created. We take advantage of this movement habitat by planting our plots using these natural edges as the new edges to our food plots. In addition, we will also use screening blends to create new edges for the deer to follow which may lead right up to your favorite treestand. Try and plant your food plots in a way that edges lead to your stand or shot location. You can also use the natural contour of your field to work as the funnel going into a food plot. Regardless, making edges to funnel deer throughout your food plot will improve your success this deer season.
Deer Crave Variety
Having two kids and eight nieces and nephews I know the importance of having “options” for food. Deer are very similar in the fact that they crave certain forages over others and each herd and animal can be different. It is easy for a food plotter to head to a property and plant that entire acre into one blend due to simplicity. However, biology clashes with monoculture and thrives to have diversity. Taking that acre plot and subdividing it into multiple smaller plots of different blends will help attract more deer by increasing the desirability of forages in your food plot. One season I had a one-and-a-half-acre food plot split into seven different food plot blends which created a smorgasbord of food for them. Having this variety also now opens you up to expanding the forage season of your food plot as you can now plant early, mid, and late season food sources for your deer herd.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
Each year I perform quite a few land management consultations and with that I gather quite a bit of intel on how each of my client’s seasons went. One key factor that always interests me is that more of the deer that they are harvesting are taken off the interior food plots and micro plots on their properties. Larger food plots are certainly great for providing year-round forage, but these large open areas tend to make a mature buck hesitant on visiting during daylight hours. When you start shrinking down food plots, adding interior food plots, and even screening off that larger plots into more micro plots you will start seeing an increase in daylight activity and deer sightings in general. Some of the biggest bucks in the nation are harvested each year on food plots that many would thing were a waste of time due to their small size. However, that 1/8 acre, luscious clover plot on the edge of a big ag field could be what does that big buck in this season.
This food plot season start looking for ways that you can better your plan by implementing some of these strategies. Create some edges, add some screening, improve your variety, and lastly have fun with it. Every year you will see what worked great and what could have been improved. Food plot architecture has certainly increased my success rate in the field, and I am positive it will help you out this deer season.